Streetscape project to modernize Collierville’s downtown gateway

By Published: September 20, 2018 11:32 AM CT

Work is underway in Collierville on a new Center Connect streetscape project that promises to transform Center Street leading to the historic Town Square, establishing a new gateway to Downtown Collierville.

The project will create a direct link from the Town's Historic Square to U.S. 72, and the corridor will also eventually tie into the greenbelt currently under construction along Nonconnah Creek.

Town planners envisioned a new Downtown Collierville Small Area Plan in 2010.

“One of the ideas that came out of that was that we need to spill the commercial activity that we receive on the south side of our Square and grow our commercial district,” said Collierville Town Planner Jaime Groce.

Part of the project will be funded by two grants awarded to the town in 2012 and 2013 from the state Department of Transportation (TDOT). The combined construction cost for both phases is estimated at $2.6 million, and TDOT could reimburse the town up to $1.6 million.

“We also want to improve the gateway into downtown,” explained Groce. “Center Street comes up from Highway 72, and we want to give a really good first impression to people who might be coming to our Square from that area.”

The commercial section of the two-phase project will run from South Rowlett Street to South Street, and improvements will include adding 44 on-street parking spaces to the north of the South Street intersection, widening the sidewalks to create better walkability and make them ADA compliant, and narrowing some of the traffic lanes to reduce speeding.

The new sidewalks north of South Street will connect to a future downtown Greenbelt trailhead at Center Street.

A new four-way stop will be created at the South Street-Center Street intersection that incorporates brick pavers, with the goal of slowing northbound vehicular traffic, encouraging safety, and improving the experience for pedestrians and cyclists. A new school bus stop will also be added on the side of Center Street in front of the Laurelwood Apartments.

New landscaping, irrigation, and concrete streetlight poles will also be added, and the entire street will be repaved. Farrell Paving is the contractor handling the work, which kicked off this month and is expected to be completed by next summer.

“We’re very excited for the streetscape project,” said Amanda Harris, executive director of Main Street Collierville, a nonprofit that promotes the downtown area and pushes for a vibrant, historic district. “The biggest (impact) I think it’s going to have is on the economic vitality of the merchants. I think it’s great that it’s going to be able to connect (U.S.) 72 and be a main route to the square.”

She believes the addition of new bike lanes, lighting, and parking spaces within walking distance of the square will impact the walkability and the revitalization of the downtown area.

“The additional parking is huge because one of the biggest concerns around the square, especially around lunch time, is that there is not enough parking,” explained Harris.

Sheila Moody, owner of The Quonset event center at 178 South Center Street, is one of many business owners who stands to benefit from the new improvements. Her large Quonset building, which she shares with her husband’s Dark Knight Printing & Design, extends from South Center Street to North Main Street.

“Having that beautiful streetscape and the widening of it coming from Highway 72 into our Town Square is going to very welcoming for everyone,” said Moody. “There will also be a lot of more parking, which will help us as well.”

The venue can entertain up to 380 people, creating a need for more than the 100 parking spots there now.

“It will be such an improvement over what’s there now,” said Moody. “We’re just super excited about it.”

The project, which will also touch the nearby residential area, should improve safety for students living near Collierville Middle School south of the Town Square.

The last major streetscape project in the area took place in the mid-1990s, as streets contiguous to the Town Square were transformed into a pedestrian-friendly and heritage tourism destination.

Work should be completed by next summer.


Collierville Collierville Town Square streetscape Main Street Collierville
Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian with more than 20 years of professional writing and editorial experience, working most recently with The Daily News and High Ground News.

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